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PLoS Biol. 2010 Nov 30;8(11):e1000552. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1000552.

Neighbourhood continuity is not required for correct testis gene expression in Drosophila.

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Department of Genetics, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom.


It is now widely accepted that gene organisation in eukaryotic genomes is non-random and it is proposed that such organisation may be important for gene expression and genome evolution. In particular, the results of several large-scale gene expression analyses in a range of organisms from yeast to human indicate that sets of genes with similar tissue-specific or temporal expression profiles are clustered within the genome in gene expression neighbourhoods. While the existence of neighbourhoods is clearly established, the underlying reason for this facet of genome organisation is currently unclear and there is little experimental evidence that addresses the genomic requisites for neighbourhood organisation. We report the targeted disruption of three well-defined male-specific gene expression neighbourhoods in the Drosophila genome by the synthesis of precisely mapped chromosomal inversions. We compare gene expression in individuals carrying inverted chromosomes with their non-inverted but otherwise identical progenitors using whole-transcriptome microarray analysis, validating these data with specific quantitative real-time PCR assays. For each neighbourhood we generate and examine multiple inversions. We find no significant differences in the expression of genes that define each of the neighbourhoods. We further show that the inversions spatially separate both halves of a neighbourhood in the nucleus. Thus, models explaining neighbourhood organisation in terms of local sequence interactions, enhancer crosstalk, or short-range chromatin effects are unlikely to account for this facet of genome organisation. Our study challenges the notion that, at least in the case of the testis, expression neighbourhoods are a feature of eukaryotic genome organisation necessary for correct gene expression.

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